About the Fund
How are we closing the digital divide?
Available for funded projects: Up to $675 M for the first five years
Note: See paragraph 81 of Telecom Notice of Consultation 2023-89 for the Commission’s determination regarding maintaining a cap of $150 million annually in years 4 and 5 for distribution until the conclusion of the Broadband Fund policy review process. The Commission will continue collecting and distributing funding beyond the first five years.
Canada’s vast landscape, with its varying geography and climate, presents unique challenges to the provision of high-quality broadband Internet access services for all Canadians. In particular, many rural and remote areas do not have services that are comparable to what is offered in urban centres, in terms of speed, capacity, quality, and price. The CRTC is leading the way by setting the Universal Service Objective:
Canadians, in urban areas as well as in rural and remote areas, have access to voice services and broadband Internet access services, on both fixed and mobile wireless networks.
- Modern telecommunications services – The path forward for Canada’s digital economy (Telecom Regulatory CRTC Policy 2016-496)
To meet this objective, existing infrastructure across Canada needs to be upgraded and new infrastructure needs to be built. This requires a great deal of time and money and a collective effort from all levels of government and the telecommunications industry. The CRTC has established the Broadband Fund to help provide all Canadians with access to broadband Internet and mobile wireless services. During its first five years of operation, up to $675 million will be available for projects that help achieve this goal.
How is the success of the Universal Service Objective measured?
To measure the successful achievement of this objective, we have established several criteria, including:
- Canadian residential and business fixed broadband Internet access service subscribers should be able to access speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 10 Mbps upload, and to subscribe to a service offering with an unlimited data allowance; and
- The latest generally deployed mobile wireless technology (currently LTE [long-term evolution]) should be available not only in Canadian homes and businesses, but on as many major transportation roads as possible in Canada.
Are the Broadband Fund’s eligibility and assessment criteria final?
Who benefits from greater broadband access?
The Broadband Fund is intended to benefit all Canadians who live in areas that are underserved (i.e. that do not have broadband Internet access and mobile wireless services that meet the Universal Service Objective), particularly those in rural and remote areas.
Canadians looking for information about whether funded projects will benefit their area can do so on our website, as the selected projects are announced.
How is funding awarded?
To ensure that funding is awarded fairly and with the greatest benefits to Canadians, the following process is in place:
- Calls for Applications
The CRTC issues calls for applications that address the service gaps in Canada.
- Eligibility, Assessment and Selection
A team at the CRTC reviews each application for eligibility. Next, it evaluates each eligible proposed project against the assessment criteria to identify a set of high-quality projects, from which the CRTC selects projects for funding, based on project selection considerations.
- Eligibility, Assessment and Selection
- Approved Projects
Once the projects are selected, the CRTC publishes a decision to announce the projects that are awarded funding.
- Monitoring and Compliance
Funding recipients are required to submit data on the broadband and/or mobile wireless services they provide using their funded infrastructure.
- Calls for Applications
Where does the money come from?
Funding does NOT come from tax revenues.
The funding comes directly from contributions made by large Canadian telecommunications service providers whose total annual Canadian revenues are $10 million or greater.
What kinds of projects are funded?
Funding is provided to four types of projects:
Project Type New or upgraded… Potential Benefits to Canadians Transport Project … broadband Internet transport network capacity to one or more interconnection points
- Provides higher capacity in terms of speeds, better quality of service, and greater data allowances for underserved communities
- Results in better broadband Internet access service and better service packages with higher speeds and data allowances
Access Project … fixed broadband Internet access network infrastructure to connect communities to an interconnection point on the transport network
- Provides many social benefits, including new ways to provide education to Canadians, to deliver quality health care, to access and distribute information, to find employment, to access government services, and to participate in democracy
- Facilitates economic benefits such as the development of inventions and new goods, different services, and innovative processes and business models
- Increases economic competitiveness
Mobile Wireless Project … mobile wireless network to communities and/or along major transportation roads
- Positive impacts on Canada’s public safety such as emergency calling and first responder connectivity, especially in communities and on highways that do not currently have access to mobile wireless services
Satellite-dependent community project … broadband services to a satellite-dependent community
- To improve the speed, capacity, and quality of broadband Internet access services in some of Canada’s most remote communities where there is no connection to terrestrially based telecommunications facilities
In Call 1, the Commission called for applications for eligible projects in (i) satellite-dependent communities in any area of Canada, or (ii) any eligible geographic areas in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, or Yukon. In Call 2, the Commission called for applications for all types of eligible projects in all eligible geographic areas throughout Canada. In Call 3, the Commission called for applications for transport projects, mobile wireless projects along major transportation roads, and satellite projects (operational costs only).
What is Canada’s Connectivity Strategy and what are the other sources of public funding?
Canada’s Connectivity Strategy, led by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s (ISED) , is a commitment to connect every Canadian to affordable, high-speed Internet no matter where they live, and to improve mobile cellular access from coast to coast to coast.
The Universal Broadband Fund is ISED’s program to enhance connectivity for all Canadians.
Provincial, territorial, and municipal governments also provide funding through their own broadband initiatives.
Does the CRTC provide regulatory oversight and help define eligibility requirements for other funds and Canada’s Connectivity Strategy?
No, we do not provide regulatory oversight of other funds. However, we are committed to working with all levels of government, where appropriate, to achieve the goal of providing fixed and mobile wireless broadband Internet access services to underserved Canadians. We established the Broadband Fund to assist in funding projects to build or upgrade access and transport infrastructure for fixed and mobile wireless broadband Internet access services to achieve the Universal Service Objective, in order to close the gap in connectivity in underserved areas. Federal departments, as well as some provincial, territorial, regional, and municipal governments, also provide funding through their own broadband initiatives.
Is the information submitted in applications to the Broadband Fund shared?
The Telecommunications Act has been amended to expand the CRTC's obligation to share information regarding Broadband Fund applications (sections 46.8-46.91). Upon request, application information, including project details and application status for submitted applications, will be shared with federal departments and agencies that fund telecommunications infrastructure in underserved areas, and may be shared with provincial or territorial departments or agencies. Those departments and agencies may use the information only to coordinate financial support for access to telecommunications services in underserved areas. This is in addition to the CRTC’s existing obligation to share information with ISED and with the Chief Statistician of Canada.
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